Saturday 24 February 2018

15 survivors rescued from collapsed Mumbai building where 24 people died

Indian rescue workers look for survivors in the debris of a collapsed building in Mumbai on
Indian rescue workers look for survivors in the debris of a collapsed building in Mumbai on

Rafiq Maqbool

Rescuers worked through the night removing the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in India's financial capital of Mumbai where at least 24 people have died.

A dozen others may still be buried in the rickety 117-year-old, five-storey building in congested Bhendi Bazaar in south Mumbai, which had been declared unsafe to live in six years ago, although people continued to stay there.

The residents of an adjacent building were advised to leave after it developed cracks.

Fire officer Prabhat Kumar said on Friday that 15 injured survivors have been pulled from the debris so far, in addition to the 24 bodies removed.

Nearly a dozen others were missing and feared trapped beneath the huge mound of broken concrete slabs and twisted steel girders.

Rescuers used earth-moving machines to lift concrete slabs and cement blocks as they searched for survivors.

Indian rescue workers carry a victim's body from the building collapse site in Mumbai on
Indian rescue workers carry a victim's body from the building collapse site in Mumbai on

The building had housed nine families in apartments above a first-floor nursery school, but the collapse on Thursday morning occurred before the toddlers had arrived for the day, police said.

Nearby resident Amina Sheikh tightly held her four-year-old grandson's hand as they watched the rescue efforts from a safe distance.

"This is my grandson, he used to go to school in that building," she said, tearfully pointing at the rubble.

She had been getting the boy ready for school when she heard a loud boom and saw the building had crashed down.

It was "an hour before his class began, that's why my grandson's life was saved," she said.

It was the first major building collapse after Mumbai recorded 12 inches of rainfall on Tuesday, the city's highest since 2005.

Rescue workers and residents look for survivors at the site of a building collapse in Mumbai
Rescue workers and residents look for survivors at the site of a building collapse in Mumbai

Thousands of buildings in Mumbai are more than a century old, their foundations weakened by years of heavy monsoon rains.

The collapse of a four-storey building in the city's suburb of Ghatkopar last month killed 17.

Building collapses are common in India during the monsoon season, which is June to September.

High demand and lax regulations encourage some builders to use substandard materials or add unauthorised extra floors.

Property prices and rents in Mumbai are among the highest in India as the city has expanded in the past five decades.

The city is slowly returning to normal after being paralysed by heavy downpours for two days. Train services and public transport were disrupted by flooding and water seeped into many low-lying buildings.

The city struggles to cope with the monsoon deluge each year, drawing criticism about its poor planning.

Since the start of the season, devastating floods across South Asia have killed at least 1,000 people and affected close to 40 million across northern India, southern Nepal and northern Bangladesh.

The rains have led to wide-scale flooding in a broad arc stretching across the Himalayan foothills in the three countries, causing landslides, damaging roads and electric towers and washing away tens of thousands of homes and vast swathes of farmland.

The rains moved into Pakistan on Thursday, with the heavy downpour flooding streets in Karachi. At least eight deaths were considered flood-related.

Press Association

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